What happened

Shares of Nokia (NYSE:NOK) gained 20.6% in February of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The Finnish telecommunication and network infrastructure specialist soared on the back of a solid fourth-quarter report.

So what

Nokia's fourth-quarter revenue held firm year over year at 6.7 billion euros, or $8.4 billion. On the bottom line, adjusted earnings of 0.13 euros, or $0.16, per share represented an 8% annual gain. Analysts had been looking for earnings near 0.11 euros per share on sales near 6.4 billion euros.

The networks division, which represents the bulk of Nokia's operations with a 69% share of this quarter's revenue, saw sales falling 4% year over year amid a global lull in network infrastructure upgrades. The smaller Nokia technologies segment made up for that headwind by scoring a 79% revenue gain while also widening its operating margin. A multi-year licensing agreement with Chinese communications and mobility giant Huawei provided most of that lift.

Cell tower at sunrise.

This cell tower is most likely hosting plenty of Nokia equipment. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

2018 is still looking like a trough in Nokia's cyclical business trends, followed by a major surge in 2019 and beyond. That's when telecoms around the world are expected to roll out their 5G wireless network upgrades, an area where Nokia and its rivals are putting the finishing touches on their respective technical standards and solutions.

So, Nokia's long-term future looks good, but the road to the next growth spurt could be bumpy. February's surging share price made a lot of sense, but investors might want to wait for the next speed bump before building a new position in this surprisingly volatile stock.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.